As Dave Holmes put it on Esquire.com Saturday, we expected to wake up early for a wedding this morning, “we did not expect to be taken to church.” British royal weddings aren’t known for their soaring reflections on Jesus, love, redemption, justice and civil rights. But that’s what millions around the world got Saturday when Bishop Michael Bruce Curry quoted a slave song and a speech by slain American civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.
Royal weddings are usually presided over by senior members of the Church of England. In this case, the service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor, David Conner, and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, officially did the honors of marrying the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (as Harry and Meghan are now known). But it was Bishop Curry who delivered the strongest message of love to the audience.
“The Power of Love” was the theme of Bishop Curry’s address during Saturday’s wedding ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in the U.K.
As reported by Fox News, the Episcopal Bishop’s address focused on the prime example of love upheld by the church: that of Jesus Christ.
“One scholar said it this way: ‘Jesus had founded the most revolutionary movement in human history: a movement built on the unconditional love of God for the world and the mandate to live that love,’” the Bishop said, quoting Charles Marsh’s “The Beloved Community.”
“And in so doing, to change lives and the world itself! There’s a reason,” he added. “He didn’t sacrifice his life for himself. Or anything he could get out of it. He did it for others, for the other, for the good and well-being of others. That’s love.”
The Bishop went on to quote Corinthians 13:4-7 as he stated love was not “jealous, rude, or boastful,” but rather “unselfish, sacrificial, kind and just.”
“This love, this is the way of Jesus,” Curry said. “And it’s game changer.”
He honored Markle’s American heritage and quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.”
“Imagine governments and nations where love is the way,” Curry said. “Imagine this tired old world when love is the way — when love is the way, unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive! … When love is the way, poverty will become history.” He cited Martin Luther King, Jr. explicitly several times, and alluded to the same passages in Amos — “let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” — that King famously cited.
Bishop Curry, 65, said Christianity was “a movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world and a movement mandating people to live that love and in so doing to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself,” he said.
Curry emphasized the power of love to heal wounds, end poverty and guide government, before eventually closing with “we gotta get ya’ll married.”
The address itself was given in front of a crowd of 600 guests, which included more than 30 members of the royal family. It’s estimated that nearly 100,000 “well-wishers” lined the streets to watch the procession, which lasted around 25 minutes.
“It was spectacular,” said visitor Jayne Ralph of Vancouver, who watched the Duke and Duchess of Sussex pass by. Onlookers listened to the ceremony over loudspeakers throughout the area, and many sang along to Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”
“Being here with the crowds, and singing — it was quite moving,” Ralph added.
As reported by The Washington Post, once Markle becomes an official citizen of Britain, Queen Elizabeth II will become both her “grandmum-in-law” as well as her sovereign.
After waving to thousands of fans who lined the streets along the “Long Walk,” the horse-drawn carriage returned to Windsor Castle for the reception in St. George’s Hall, where Prince Harry quipped, “I’m ready for a drink now.”
Michael Bruce Curry is the 27th and current presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. Elected in 2015, he is the first African American to serve in that capacity. During 2017 and 2018, Bishop Curry launched a series of revivals “that promise to stir and renew hearts for Jesus, to equip Episcopalians as evangelists, and to welcome people who aren’t part of a church to join the Jesus Movement.” He is also the author of a book called Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus.